OK, I was wrong. Mark the date on the calendar. I thought MLW wasn’t very good. Well, it wasn’t that good just before before they had their break. It was repetitive, looked dark, was a little silly. But this rebrand? It works. Let’s get into MLW Fusion: Alpha!
A: Some of the grapplers that have been bought in are pretty special and will be good hands for MLW.
Yes, I had some issues with the Draft, but that was because they made their big announcement in the first week and then had to fill the rest of the episodes.
To have a revitalised, returning to wrestling Davey Richards straining his sinews and showing his class is a treat.
Bringing in athletic, robust, hard hitting independent Matt Cross is a fantastic addition too, very much in the mould of Richards but with fewer hard hitting matches taking their toll (it seems), Cross had a very robust showing with Jacob Fatu recently.
Arez, a lucha with a face painted look and an innovative offence has already delighted, even if he came up on the losing end of his MLW debut. The possibilities are pretty endless.
Danny Limelight. Slice Boogie. These members of the Bodega in Championship Wrestling From Hollywood will be a great nefarious tag team. Once MLW settle on one name for them and stop them spray painting people, that is.
There are more additions to the roster, but these are some really dynamic decisions.
B+: Some of the wrestlers who have returned are surprising me. Some have blossomed. Some are totally different.
Tom Lawlor benefits from his Openweight Champion run on NJPW with their better version of Team Filthy (Kevin Ku v JR Kratos? No contest) where he has burnished his ego through talent act. It can’t be denied that he’s damned good.
The Von Erichs were hiding in the shadow of their dad Kevin before the break. Last week Marshall and Ross burst into the opening Bunkhouse Battle with anger, energy and a nastiness which surprised me. If they continue like this, they’ll be very special.
Jacob Fatu remains a dangerous Contra acolyte (but wish he could say more than ‘Hail Contra!) with a brutal attack and an acrobatic game which so few big men can muster.
And Alex Hammerstone has matured from the cut price Sid Vicious act I accused him of a while ago. He came back at me then, listing his successes.
And he’s now shown what he can do, struggling through a quite awful programme with Contra and keeping himself watchable. And now he’s Champ. So one in the eye for me.
B-: The look of the programme is better. Someone has found the dimmer switch and turned it up to 7.5. We can see things now. It doesn’t have a wannabe underground but too frightened to enter the pit look.
It even has some colour in it, not to In Your House migraine-inducing levels, but at least there’s something to bring you up when Simon Gotch (other wrestlers are available in this section too) comes down the ramp.
C-: Some holdover talent from before the break remains ordinary.
Gino Medina just isn’t playing the character of the jealous, narcissistic heel. He tries hard, but always seems as though he’s playing it, never really inhabiting it.
Mads Kruger continues to be one dimensional camo-wearing battered with a voice he can’t project through his mask. It’s like Bane wearing army boots. And that isn’t a good thing, before you ask.
D: The first messages about MLW Fusion: Alpha were that it was a mini series, weren’t they? My heart sank.
We already had poor angles before the break. We didn’t need more.
Thankfully the ‘takeover’ of MLW by ‘El Jefe’ has been relegated to just toothy grinning and wrestlers pressing their cases. Leave it there. Don’t try to write a story around it. As MLW have shown, this is not their forté.
I like Josef Samael. His cigar work is second to only Winston Churchill and an alleged presidential paramour. And his promos are all of a piece. They don’t deviate, they repeat but he plays his part so well, you can’t take your eyes off him.
I like his champion (now with no capital C) Jacob too. It’s just that some of the other Contra members are supernumeraries; Daivari? Looks good, but destined to be a footsoldier. And they’ve been stuck in a battle with Hammerstone, over and over again with the same stuff, battle with Kruger, jumped by a Squad.
Even in the last Alpha episode, Alex continued to fight during each break from the ring. Different break, different Contra member. Sigh.
Maybe his capturing of the championship belt will change things. Betchya it won’t.
Much better than it was. A definite improvement. New pupils make a real difference. There’s running in the halls. A move to a new building helps too. There’s still work to go but MLW Fusion: Alpha is an improvement.